What kind of athlete would I want my child to be

Published 12:13 am Friday, March 27, 2020

This week’s Sports Chatter deals with something that I have been pondering on for a while, even before the state we are currently in. And as I have said in previous Chatter’s sometimes it doesn’t pay me to ponder on things because I can come up with some crazy thoughts in this head of mine.
The thing that I have been studying on especially since I have had many, many opportunities to cover a wide variety of sports is what sport would I want my child to participate in if I really had my rathers.
That answer finally came to me while covering the 2020 TSSAA State Wrestling contest in Nashville at the end of February.
I would want my child to be a wrestler and here are just a few supporting points as to why I would choose that sport.
There is no entitlement
In most team sports over the years I have witnessed many athletes that simply feel they are entitled to a position on the team be it because of the family name, social status, or because someone puts extra financial backing behind a program.
From what I have seen in the sport of wrestling this cannot exist as easily because in wrestling whether you succeed or whether you fail all hinges upon the athlete.
If one thinks to put on wrestling tights and wrestling shoes makes one a wrestler automatically – they are dead wrong.
There are many wrestling moves that have to be learned and there is a high level of discipline required to become a top-notch wrestler. A simple strut onto the mat often results in a quick pinfall for those that have this level of thinking who have not put in the countless hours on the mat it takes to reach a state championship level.
And just because you show up for the team photo doesn’t qualify you as a wrestler either. The bottom line is that unless one is willing to work hard, listen to instruction, and put aside egos – wrestling is probably not the sport for you.
However, with the right training and commitment, the sky is the limit for anyone wanting to participate in the sport.
Its man on man or in some cases girl on girl
Many sports allow athletes the opportunity to cover up their shortfalls and mistakes by blaming it on their teammates around them. However, in wrestling that is not the case.
When the match begins it is man on man or as is the case in today’s society girl on girl as many girls have now started to participate heavily since colleges now recruit female wrestlers.
It is amazing to watch a wrestler completely dominate their opponent for most of the match and then to see that underdog opponent flip the tide on their competition in a phenomenal comeback win.
I saw this during regional competition this year as a Cyclone wrestler was outpointing their opponent by a big margin only to see the slightest of miscues allow their opponent to roll them into a pin.
It stunned the Cyclone wrestler as well as everyone who was watching the match.
The sport doesn’t allow frivolous excuses as some other sports does. Either you win on your own merit or you lose on your own merit. There are no in-betweens.
If your coach has done all they can to prepare you and no extra work is exercised on your part, it’s not that coaches fault – it’s yours.
Yes, wrestling exposes the athletes very quickly and an athlete can either set themselves apart real quick or just be an average athlete who does very little to improve themselves.
I have to mention Deuce Morton in this space as I have been totally in awe of watching this Cyclone wrestler on the mats during the past season.
Morton is a prime example of what it takes to be a great wrestler – he puts the time in, his mind is constantly working through moves even before the match begins, and in most cases, his matches are over before they hardly got started.
As a result, Morton is a back-to-back state champion at 195 pounds due to the incredible preparation that he puts into the sport and is an example to other wrestlers who wish to reach that level of success.
Yes, he does have some swagger to him but he is able to back it up with his performance and that’s all that really matters.
Wrestling teaches life lessons
I don’t think there is a former wrestler anywhere that would not back this statement up.
With the amount of discipline and work it takes to be a good wrestler, those traits can only carry over to life beyond the mat.
If athletes can gain access to team participation without putting in hard work and commitment, I would have to argue that once athletes enter the arena of life, their expectations are that others around them owe them something.
I am sure some are reading this article right now and scratching their heads saying, “You know, Ivan is right. I know somebody just like that.”
Coming from someone who has worked hard all their life – even holding down two and three jobs at a time, I can tell you that if you expect someone to just throw you on their back with your unwillingness to work hard and carry you – you are sadly mistaken.
This, I believe, is why wrestling is the sport that I would want my child to participate in. Because if they are willing to do whatever it takes to be the best wrestler out there, there will be things instilled in them that will help elevate them above others in the workplace.
So when promotions come or opportunities arise to be recognized, they will be one of the first ones to be recommended because they have worked hard to achieve whatever honor comes their way.
Now, please don’t think that there aren’t athletes in other sports that don’t work just as hard. Again, I was just pondering on this subject.
However, I would rather leave everything out on the mat than not give you something to stew on yourself!

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